Unfiltered: Paul Gartland
The sommelier at Ireland’s Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen on bringing cohesion to a cellar built over three decades, a fondness for Chartreuse sours, and an appreciation for the directness of Quentin Tarantino…
What is your service motto?
Read your guest.
What is your vintage?
1993, from which I have secured a few bottles of Disznókö Tokaji Aszú 6 Puttonyos to mark a big birthday.
Describe the list at Chapter One?
Having been open for over three decades, we have built up a decent cellar of back vintages including a good stock of Raveneau and higher-end Penfolds and Henschke.
What is the most exciting wine you serve by the glass?
An exclusive to us, we received an allocation of just 33 bottles of the zéro-dosage Marguet Les Crayères 2015, a grower Champagne which achieves a balance between ripeness and chalky minerality while being stunning and versatile.
What are your ambitions for the list?
I intend to bring more cohesion between the wine list and the food of our very classically French driven chef. There’s no point in ticking the boxes to have a bottle from every wine-producing country in the world.
What did you do before?
I worked as chef de rang here before moving to The Greenhouse where I met Mickael Viljanen and became head sommelier – and then returned last July to Chapter One when Mickael took over.
What has been a memorable pairing?
Comté soufflé with Vin Jaune sauce, macadamia and winter black truffle with the oak-aged 2013 Viña Gravonia from López de Heredia whose decanter shaped tasting room I have visited. It’s an interesting wine, its honeyed, earthy aromas contrasting the bone-dry palate which behaves like sherry and compliments the Vin Jaune sauce beautifully. Initially, we served Fernando de Castilla Fino, though at least half our guests told us they don’t really like sherry, sadly.
What ingredient do you love?
Truffles elevate 99% of dishes while being a fun ingredient to pair wine with. Especially in that soufflé as it heats up…
What grape don’t you get along with?
The rose and lychee scented, waxy Gewürztraminer doesn’t appeal and can be high in alcohol.
What’s the biggest misconception guests have about your role?
They may not realise that 80% of my work is done off the floor, including creating the concept for the list, as well as trying to figure out pairings with Mickael’s mad dishes such as the Valrhona milk chocolate dessert with burnt honey ice cream, lapsang souchong smoked tea bavarois, and bergamot parfait. He runs at his own pace while everyone catches up!
Is music played at the restaurant?
What is your favourite cocktail?
Being dangerously balanced despite its high alcohol content, our green Chartreuse sour capped with elderflower foam dispensed from a syphon gun, then citrus salt. We are also famed for our flambé Irish coffees, which we make on a little trolley tableside. A good show and delicious, too.
What is “Project Art”?
For over a decade, Chapter One has promoted the work of emerging artists in Ireland building a collection for the restaurant. Each commission is launched annually, exploring the connection between food and art.
Tell us something surprising about yourself?
Having moved home at the start of the pandemic, I became an avid gardener, planting a small, tropical garden including the southwest facing Vidal vine which produces a few bunches.
Who is your favourite film director?
I’m a big fan of Quentin Tarantino whose style of direction is upfront with nothing hidden.
What is your favourite texture in wine?
Nebbiolo for its high tannins from thick skins.
Describe the setting?
The dining room spans the basement of two Georgian houses, joined by an arch cut into the incredibly thick wall between. We also have a Chef’s Table made of glazed volcanic rock which looks directly to the kitchen, The Midleton Room, meanwhile, is home to bottles of Midleton Very Rare from 1984 to the current release, all available by the shot. On that note, our premises used to be the city home of the distiller, John Jameson. Then there is the Demi Salle in the former coal bunker beneath the pavement.
Who should people contact if they want to join your team?
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re serious about the industry, it’s a very good place to be. We are known for nurturing our people, and owner, Ross Lewis won the Michelin Chef Mentor Award. Hundreds of chefs have come through our kitchen over the years. We are also working on our own wine training programme.
Chapter One by Mickael Viljanen – 18-19 Parnell Sq., Dublin 1, Ireland; +353 01 873 email@example.com; chapteronerestaurant.com